FDA asks public to report seafood-related toxin illnesses, submit and meal remnants

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has updated its webpage providing information on commonly occurring seafood-related illnesses and how to report them to the FDA.

To help FDA effectively investigate, remove unsafe seafood products from the market, and develop new prevention strategies, the agency relies on illness reporting from public health officials and health care providers.

While most foodborne outbreaks are tracked through the FDA’s Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) network, seafood-related illnesses caused by natural toxins have a unique reporting mechanism.

The FDA receives reports of illnesses associated with the consumption of specific types of fish. These illnesses may originate from the activity of certain bacteria, toxins produced by marine algae, or hazards inherent in the fish.

To report illnesses related to miscellaneous natural toxin illnesses, please email the FDA at [email protected]

Or, to report an illness from raw bivalve molluscan shellfish, email the FDA at [email protected]

The FDA works with first responders, physicians, and state and local health departments to investigate illnesses and outbreaks, manage them and learn how to lessen future occurrences.

Commonly occurring illness:

  • Ciguatera Fish Poisoning (CFP)
  • Puffer Fish Poisoning (PFP)
  • Scombrotoxin Fish Poisoning (SFP)
  • Seafood-associated Rhabdomyolysis (sometimes referred to as Haff disease)

Meal remnants collection:

The FDA is currently collecting meal remnants from patients diagnosed with the seafood related diseases to confirm the causative species and research the causative agent(s).

The FDA collects meal remnants and epidemiological information, whenever available, to expand their knowledge and information database to better understand these illnesses. This data is critical to improving understanding of the sources of illnesses and helps the FDA learn more about the epidemiology and science of these illnesses.

  • Meal remnants:
    • As it relates to natural toxin illness events listed, the FDA defines a meal remnant as any remaining edible portion of the fish, cooked or uncooked, from the exact fish consumed for the illness event.
    • Any meal remnants should be immediately frozen and should not be eaten by any other individual. The meal remnants should be provided to health care providers or state/local public health authorities. The health care providers or state/local authorities will contact their local FDA District Office to coordinate submission of the remnants for analysis as deemed appropriate.
  • Epidemiological information:
    • The epidemiological information collected will be used as part of a surveillance effort to confirm the sources of illnesses, characterize the responsible toxins, develop testing methodologies (where appropriate), and determine if development and/or refinement of controls for the toxins are warranted. In addition, a better understanding of long-term effects on the patient may be gained. The information gained from this work may assist the FDA in its partnerships with state and local public health departments to reduce future occurrences.

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